As I write this on Thursday night, the Ducks are exactly 10 points behind Dallas for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. While it's not great, it's certainly much better than they were this time last month. And just like the All-Star break coming at the most inconvenient time, so does this franchise record two-week, eight-game road trip. The road has not been good to the Ducks, but then again, so have a lot of things this season.
Let's take a look at the teams that the Ducks are going to face on the road: Detroit, Columbus, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, New Jersey (I'll be there!), Florida, Tampa Bay, and Carolina (watch out, Corey). Ok, I'll admit it. I've started to drink Bruce Boudreau's Positivity Punch. Instead of feeling an overwhelming sense of doom, I feel kind of, well, optimistic. I believe that the only team that will cause the Ducks immense grief is Detroit. Other than that, they just might be able to squeeze out a point or two from the other games. I hate to get cliche on you, but this is the ultimate "make-or-break" road trip. Fail on this trip and it's pretty much over. (Someone just spiked my Positivity Punch.)
The key to the Ducks success is scoring - a lot. For the past month, Jonas Hiller has given the Ducks the opportunity to win every night. He can only do so much. The offense needs to take the position of Boudreau's former team and run up the score like crazy. Even if Hiller lets in five goals, as long as the Ducks score six, we're good. It all starts with Bobby Ryan, Corey Perry, and Ryan Getzlaf. They must have monster road trips. When you're playing and traveling this much you can't count on the Old Guys to carry the team.
Finally, teams you need to cheer for tonight (even if it hurts): Buffalo, Carolina, and *deep breath* San Jose.
P.S. I'm headed to NYC February 15th - 18th to see the Ducks play my beloved Zach Parise in NJ. Then I'm off to Toronto February 18th - 22nd just because. Hit me up if you're in either area and would like to buy me a drink :)